Monthly Archives: March 2014

The “virtue” of doing for doing’s sake

London Business PeopleC. S. Lewis in a letter to a female correspondent, on intemperance in work (1956):

Don’t be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn’t do. Each must do his duty ‘in that state of life to which God has called him.’ Remember that a belief in the virtues of doing for doing’s sake is characteristically feminine, characteristically American, and characteristically modern: so that three veils may divide you from the correct view!

There can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one’s self-importance. As MacDonald says, ‘In holy things may be unholy greed.’ And by doing what ‘one’s station and its duties’ does not demand, one can make oneself less fit for the duties it does demand and so commit some injustice. Just you give Mary a little chance as well as Martha!

You Know You Need a Monster Mask When…

I was doing the working-at-the-coffee-shop thing the other day. I was typing furiously away at my laptop, breathing the caffeine-saturated air and living vicariously through the Drinking Coffeesecondhand aromas long after my own drink was gone.

All this was as I have described to you, when a troop of young men began to gather at a table near my spot. They each had one or more of the following: army or police-force stickers on their (Dell) laptops, navy blue cargo pants, emblems on their shirts, backpacks that they carried by the top handle and never the shoulder straps, and combat boots. The numbers continued to grow so that new tables were added onto the original table as the fellows arrived two-by-two. It was fascinating, really, and if I had actually retained some chemistry from high school, I would find some metaphor for how they clustered like atoms until a molecule was formed. I ceased to be amazed when I realized that they had pre-appointed this place for their meeting, and that one of the first ones to arrive was actually the man who was Sunday of the group (if you haven’t read Man Who Was Thursday, by GKC, well, proceed with my article and don’t confuse yourself about Sunday. He’s just the guy in charge).

The Man Who Was Sunday began to give them tips about adverbs and adjectives, then moved onto nouns and compound nouns, such as “corpse” and “jury.” Then he started reading test questions, and the other atoms seemed very confused when they had to define “arrest” and what type of “arrest” it was when a cop pulled someone over for speeding.

Suddenly, one of them pointed out the window at the line of cars in the drive through and said something that made a few of the guys laugh, and Sunday said, “Focus.” But as new cars came up and as the drivers (mostly female) faced the window to order their drinks, more and more of the guys in the molecular compound were distracted, until finally Sunday was craning his neck and joining the chatter.

“Oh hey, there’s a hot one!”

“Look at that one! Man!”

“No, this one’s the hottest one yet. Look at her!”

At first I thought they were pointing out cars they liked, but then I realized they were talking about the girls driving the cars.

The comments continued and their studies forgotten.

I became increasingly uncomfortable, and then incensed. There is something about guys comparing women’s external features that has always irked me. It’s as if they are comparing cattle. Their comparisons don’t take into account any of the things that truly matter, such as character, personality, or faith, but are completely based on the outside appearance. These girls were out for a day of shopping and decided to drive through Starbucks to pick up a drink, when suddenly they were unwittingly thrown onto a catwalk for ten young guys to assess them based on their hair color and style, their eyes and brow shape, their face shape, and their neck and shoulders. Thankfully the fact that they were seated in their cars kept them from full-body evaluations.

Hurriedly packing up my laptop and grabbing my coat, I left the building. I couldn’t sit there knowing what was going through these guys’ heads, even though I knew that as soon as I left, the subject of my own physique would probably be discussed as well.

Oh to have a monster mask handy! I wished I had bought one of those hideous things when they went on sale after Halloween. This would have been the perfect time to stick it over my head, get in my car, and go order a coffee at the drive through.

Guys, I know you’re visual. I get that. It’s one of the things that makes you so wonderfully different, so good at graphic design, architecture, photography, videography, art, industrial design, mechanics, problem solving, puzzles, inventing, etc. It’s also one of the characteristics that helps you decide who to marry, and that’s not a bad thing. It is not wrong for a man to think a woman is beautiful because of certain aesthetic elements. But please, please, please, don’t dishonor women by thinking of them merely as physical shapes and external features. And if you do think of them that way, please don’t talk about it or encourage it in others. I know that the pornography industry has made hay with this, so that a man can get pseudo-satisfaction for his visual nature without ever troubling to know the heart and mind and character of the women he looks at.

As I left that coffee shop frustrated—and actually angry (a rare emotion for me)—I knew it wasn’t because I envied those “hot” girls for the attention they were receiving as they were going through the drive through. It was because those girls had been treated like animals, or cars. They were being evaluated based entirely on something that they couldn’t change, something that no one but their Creator was responsible for giving them. Meanwhile, the elements that they had worked hard on—the paycheck that provided the $5 cappuchino, the heart that was passionate for the widow and orphan, the brain that was composing the next great movie theme song, the soul that was struggling to submit to God, or the hands that worked tirelessly to feed and clothe her toddlers—these elements were invisible.

The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.